Marina Antoniou : Designing her own destiny

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It all started for young designer Marina Antoniou in 2008. After studying jewellery design for three years, and having twelve months work experience in the industry she has recently branched out on her own. Four months in, this budding creative is full of big plans and ideas. Marina tells us what set her on this path and who has supported her move.


In 2007, I headed off to Europe for six weeks and I guess this was the start of it all for me. I became so enthralled with the ‘localsmiths’ - the boot makers, the painters, and in particular, the jewellers. The narrow streets of Greece were the most stimulating of them all and for the first time I was not only obsessed with the jewels, but was more so intrigued with what was going on behind the scenes. The jewellers bench, the tools, the stories. I knew I wanted more.


I came back from this trip, two weeks later deferred from my almost-finished Industrial Design degree at university and enrolled, without even having to think twice, into the Jewellery and Object Design course at The Design Centre Enmore.


I was very lucky to have had some really wonderful teachers throughout my three years of study. Ragnar Hansen, Melinda Young, Vernon Bowden and Marcelo Zavala-Baeza were incredible. The skill and knowledge they passed onto me is irreplaceable, and I have them to thank for the development of my designing, making, drawing, computing, and business skills. It’s so nice to know that the advice and guidance of these people is still there, even though I am no longer inside the college walls.


My Mum, my Dad, my boyfriend, my family and a few very special friends have been the strongest support for me. If it weren’t for them, I would not be where I am today. The contemporary jewellery world is not an easy one for 'non-jewellers' to understand. It's taken me a while to get those people close to me to make sense of what I do and what I want to do. I am certain that if it wasn't for the support and guidance of these people, I'd still be an unhappy soul in an unhappy job.


My Dad knows business, and I guess I have him to thank for sharing his business brain with me. No matter how ridiculous the question may seem, Dad will always have an answer. I also think it’s a great thing to be able to get business advice from someone who runs a business in a completely different field. Nothing gets in the way. It’s just straight out business with Dad.


The contemporary jewellery community has also been so supportive from the get go. In comparison to other design groups out there, it is a very small industry, and I think this is what makes it so special to be part of. We all look out for each other. We invite one another to exhibit together, we share jewellery making techniques, we support one another by offering advice when things get a little tough. It’s nice.

 

I was terrified leaving the stability of my job. I worked for two well-established jewellery brands in my first year out of study, but found myself working as a sale associate most of the time. I missed designing and making. I missed the entire creative process! As much as I loved the comfort of a weekly pay cheque, my hands and mind needed a lot more. It took me a while, but I finally realised that I needed stop, refocus and start back up again at what I do best. The great thing is I learned from them how I do and don’t want to run my own business.


To get my name out there I enter as many exhibitions and awards as possible. I was shortlisted as a NewStar at the 2010 agIdeas International Design Forum, which saw my work being exhibited at the Melbourne Museum. Having my jewellery exhibited in the Contemporary Wearables Biennale Jewellery Award and Exhibition last year and being shortlisted in the National Contemporary Jewellery Award in 2010 have also been two very exciting moments for me.


I’m focused now on building up stockists. I have just started stocking a few pieces of jewellery on the website Oye Modern (pictured, www.oyemodern.com) which I’m very excited about. My plan is to continue this, and design and make a few small collections to approach contemporary jewellery spaces and galleries with in Sydney, Melbourne and online. I also want to continue exhibiting, as well as take on more custom jewellery commissions.

 

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You can connect with Marina on the Women in Focus community.